01: Smoke of Satan: Conservative and Traditionalist Dissent in Contemporary American Catholicism (Oxford, $27.50) by Michael W. Cuneo, provides an intereresting look at the subcultures of the Catholic right.
Cuneo, a Fordham University sociologist, examines such movements as conservative Catholicism; prolife activism; traditionalism (which emphasizes a return to pre-Vatican II Catholicism); and radical Marian-apocalyptic movements, such as the one gathered around Veronica Lueken in Queens, N.Y., and the Apostles of Infinite Love, a Canadian group that claims the true papacy.
Through interviews and vivid descriptions, Cuneo puts flesh and bones on these renegade priests and others rebelling against the modern church, as well as showing how they are influenced by the individualism and utopianism of American religion. (It should be noted that RW‘s editor helped in researching the book).
02: Anyone interested in a relatively brief but thorough and clear discussion of new religious movements is advised to read New Religions as Global Cultures (Westview Press, $18.95) by Irving Hexham and Karla Poewe.
The authors look at new religions in the perspective of the world religions, tracking how popular Western movements, such as the charismatic momenta and Unificationism, were shaped by traditional religious insights and practices. In other words, the controversial features of many new religions, such as radical conversion experiences, are also found in primitive and other forms of religion around the world.
The book, which carries a helpful glossary of terms, presents a critical look at the anti-cult movement while also examining the abusive elements of some new religious movements.